Oregon Ducks

Oregon men's basketball: Reloaded and better than ever?

Oregon men's basketball: Reloaded and better than ever?

Just a few months ago when forward Kenny Wooten, forward Louis King and center Bol Bol declared for the NBA draft and Oregon’s roster was comprised of six scholarship players, it appeared UO was plunging towards a rebuilding season. Now, the Ducks have 11 eligible players and are brimming with fresh, elite talent.

Oregon’s 2019 recruiting class finished fourth in the country, first in the Pac-12 Conference and second-best all-time for the program, according to 247Sports rankings.

Oregon coach Dana Altman has built a reputation as a transfer wizard and an elite roster builder. His history of accumulating talent to buy into his vision and click at the right time has resulted in two regular season Pac-12 Conference championships (2016, 2017), three Pac-12 tournament championships (2013, 2016, 2019) and NCAA tournament success (including a Final Four run in 2017).

Altman’s 2019-2020 roster is turning heads around the college basketball world and in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the Westgate Superbook, the Oregon basketball team is currently 10/1 odds to make the 2020 Final Four and at 40/1 odds to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

Booking flights to the Final Four? You’ve got some new names to learn. Here is a look at the Ducks' roster, which includes only three returners: point guard Payton Pritchard, guard Will Richardson and center Francis Okoro.

The fresh faces eligible to play right away:

Five-star center N’Faly Dante

The 2020 class 6-foot-11 big man reclassified into the 2019 recruiting class and chose Oregon over Kentucky. With a 7-foot-5 wingspan, Dante is an excellent shot blocker and finishes with force at the rim. Oregon needed another center along with Okoro and Dante fills the missing piece.

Four-star shooting guard Addison Patterson

The 6-foot-6 Canadian prospect also reclassified to 2019 recruiting class after spending this past year at Bella Vista Prep. His intensity and competitiveness have been compared to former Duck Dillon Brooks. A solid shooter, Patterson is able to create his own shot and wants to be the next big Canadian star.

No. 1 junior college prospect guard Chris Duarte

The Northwest Florida State College guard was selected as the NJCAA National Player of the Year. The 6-foot-6 sophomore is the third Duck to receive the honor during Altman’s tenure, joining Chris Boucher and Kavell Bigby-Williams.

Five-star forward CJ Walker

The 6-foot-8 forward from Orlando committed to Oregon in November over LSU and Miami. Walker could be Oregon’s next exhilarating shot blocker. Also, you may have seen this stunning dunk.

Four-star forward Chandler Lawson

The 6-foot-8 combo forward picked the Ducks over offers from Kansas, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech. His length, elite defense and ability to create turnovers will be crucial for Oregon this season.

Three-star forward Lök Wur

The 6-foot-9 forward from Papillion, Nebraska originally was heading towards junior college because of academic eligibility issues. When the NCAA declared him eligible in June, 20 scholarship offers flooded in. Wur chose Oregon. His evolving offensive game and length are an asset.

New Mexico guard Anthony Mathis

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound guard was basically the splash bro of New Mexico. He set a program record with 106 made three pointers on 41.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Mathis is also high school teammate of Pritchard’s, they won three 6A Oregon state basketball titles together at West Linn High School.

UNLV wing Shakur Juiston

Previously the national JUCO Player of the Year, 6-foot-7 Juiston was injured last season. He (and his rebounding) will be immediately available for Oregon as he was granted a medical waiver for his fifth year.

The pieces are in place for another excited and winning season for the Ducks. Altman’s ability to bring a team together to find chemistry will surely be tested. The sooner the new Ducks buy in, the better for Oregon basketball.

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

The No. 13 Oregon Ducks will be donning all "Nightmare Green" on Friday at 5 p.m (PT) in Levi's Stadium against Pac-12 South division winner No. 5 Utah. 

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released. 

The battle between Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

Utah will be wearing all white.

Numbers to know: Utah leads the FBS in rushing defense (56.3) with opponents averaging just 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing and have outscored their opponents 193-61 in the second half this season. 

MORE DUCKS

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

10 surprising numbers: Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship

Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

Days after Chris Petersen resigned from coaching the Washington Huskies, the good news just keeps coming for Ducks fans.

After a season of what felt like a dead man coaching, USC AD Mike Bohn said Wednesday that head coach Clay Helton will be retained. 

USC ended the regular season ranked No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, going 8-4, including a win over No. 5 Utah. That sounds like a successful season, but there’s much more to the situation that caused many Trojan fans to desire Helton’s firing. 

USC is arguably the only blue blood football program in the Pac-12. They are located in the middle of Los Angeles, which creates some of the most elite high school football talent in America. The top two high school football teams in the nation are located near Los Angeles. Many of those elite kids grow up dreaming of playing in LA Coliseum. USC recruits itself and always is among the most talented teams in the nation.  

Despite all of that, USC has the 67th ranked recruiting class in the country eleven days before the early signing period. Helton has the program in such bad shape that local recruits are continuing to look elsewhere.

If USC’s brand perception continues to tank, then the rank of being the best brand in the conference can be Oregon’s for the taking. The elite recruits choosing their schools today do not remember the Pete Caroll era that included teams with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. They grew up watching Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks torching USC en route to winning BCS Bowls and revolutionizing college football. They were trend-setters with their uniforms, while USC was caught up in their past traditions. Now, the Ducks have Mario Cristobal at the helm, one of the best recruiters in the country. 

Also, Oregon has already gone into Los Angeles and received commitments from kids targeted by USC, as well. Linebacker Mase Funa and wide receiver Michael Pittman come to mind immediately. The LA to Eugene pipeline began when De'Anthony Thomas shocked the world by committing to the Ducks. Recruits today remember that decision. Cristobal has only solidified that pipeline and if USC continues to look unappealing, then the Ducks should only amass more talent. 

Don't forget these kids watched the Ducks demolish USC in Los Angeles earlier this season, 56-24.

Currently, the Ducks have the 11th ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports and still have a few more spots open for big time recruits to commit closer to signing day.

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Friday’s battle between No. 13 Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. 

The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

AN OREGON WIN WOULD…

·      Tie Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

·      Clinch the program's eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl.

·      Give Oregon seven seasons with 11 or more wins (first time since 2014).


A UTAH WIN WOULD…

·      Be Utah’s first conference championship.

·      Extend its winning streak to nine games, their longest winning streak since 2008 when Utah went undefeated (13-0).

·      Keep its college football playoff hopes alive.

THREE KEYS TO AN OREGON VICTORY

Oregon can hang with anyone when they put it all together but how can they defeat a Utes team looking for a statement win to display to the College Football Playoff rankings committee?

1. Shake up Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley is dangerous and experienced. The senior is crazy efficient (has completed 75.5% of his passes, which is second behind LSU’s Joe Burrow) averaging 11.1 passing yards per completion, a Pac-12 best and third in the FBS. 

Huntley and Burrow are the only two quarterbacks who have thrown under 70 percent in two or less games. They are also the only quarterbacks that have thrown for 80 percent or higher in four games this season.

The Heisman-Trophy candidate also has 74 carries for 255 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

“Huntley runs that offense like he’s been there for four years because he has been. We’re looking forward to playing against them,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said.
Oregon must disrupt Huntley and the ball-controlling Utes. The Duck defense has been mostly dependable this season, allowing 10 points or fewer in seven of 10 games. The Ducks have recorded a conference-best 35 sacks and will need to continue to play to that strength.

Look for starting defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to have a major impact. The freshman has heated up in the last four games, totaling eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Coming off a two tackles for loss, one sack performance, Thibodeaux matched a program freshman record with 6.5 sacks on the season, tying Troy Dye’s 2016 total. Entering this season, Thibodeaux’s goal was 10 sacks: an accomplishment still in reach.

2. Win the turnover battle

The rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference could lead to some mistakes and sloppy play. Oregon must be on the winning end of the turnover battle to contend against Utah. The Ducks practiced with a wet ball this week and aren’t overly concerned with “mother nature”. Some numbers to consider:

  • Keep Utah’s defense out of the end zone- The Utes defense has five touchdowns this season, ranking second in the FBS.
  • Oregon ranks first (17) and Utah (13) ranks second in interceptions.
  • Utah is 10th in FBS in turnover margin (0.83).
  • Oregon has scored 113 points off turnovers compared to opponents' 27 points off turnovers.
  • This season against Pac-12 teams, Oregon is undefeated when winning the turnover battle (4-0).

3. Passing game success

Utah is known for its defense, which is giving up a conference-best 11.3 points (third in the nation) and 56.3 yards rushing (first in the nation) on average. Opponents haven’t found an answer to the Utes rushing defense that is allowing an average of 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

So likely, the Ducks will have to get it done through the passing game.

This is considerable reason for concern regarding Oregon’s offense, which has struggled in the last two games. After quarterback Jusin Herbert threw two interceptions against Arizona State, the Ducks totaled their lowest yardage of the season against Oregon State. Oregon’s receivers have lacked separation and Herbert has had some errant throws.

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

The Ducks will need junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III to maintain his dependability in his strong season finish. In the last three games, he has 18 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns. 34 of the junior’s 49 receptions have gone for first downs and he has three-straight games with a touchdown catch.

How and where to watch

Time: Friday, Dec. 6, 5:14 p.m. (PT)

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: ABC

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

In a time of collegiate football postseason play, the coaching carousel has begun.

How might this effect the No. 13 ranked Oregon Ducks? Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s name popped up Wednesday, according to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for the UNLV head coaching vacancy.

According to the report, another name on that list will be across the field from Arroyo at the Pac-12 Championship on Friday: Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley.

Arroyo joined the Oregon program as a part of Willie Taggart’s staff back in 2017 as Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator as well as the coach for the quarterbacks/tight ends. Before his tenure at Oregon, Arroyo spent two seasons as the running backs coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

How this effects the Ducks

It’s not always good for team morale to hear one of your own coach’s names being thrown out to take another position, especially now that the Ducks are San Jose bound for the Pac-12 Championship game.

A dialed-in, focused week with limited distractions is what’s needed for the Ducks right now with No. 5 Utah looming at the end of the short week. This will be the final season that senior quarterback Justin Herbert will be coached by Arroyo as Herbert is NFL bound in a few months.

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Oregon is about to play as the underdog for the first time in 2019 in its most prominent game of the season: The Pac-12 Championship game.

Statistically, No. 5 Utah out-matches the No. 13 Ducks. The Utes have the Pac-12's best defense; a physical team that’s allowing only 56 rushing yards a game. Plus, Utah is the conference’s best rushing team, led by running back Zack Moss with a crazy efficient dual-threat quarterback at the helm in Tyler Huntley.

Also, the Utes are still College Football Playoff contenders looking to make a statement to the committee.

Alas, Oregon has something that Utah doesn’t have: Senior quarterback Justin Herbert, a young man who is looking to bestow a lasting legacy in his swan song season. The Eugene-native has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season.

No one shoulders it more than him. His passion is almost… (pause)… You can almost taste it. You feel it on him sometimes. He is really excited (to compete for the Pac-12 Title). The biggest part for him, is another chance to play with an “O” on his chest with his guys in his senior year in a place he wanted to play. That’s really cool to see. -- Oregon offensive Coordinator Marcus Arroyo 

Following Oregon’s loss at Arizona State, which killed all hopes of a College Football Playoff berth, Herbert said “it means everything” to refocus and aim their ambitions at the Rose Bowl. The Ducks can guarantee a spot in the Rose Bowl with a Pac-12 title win.

Herbert’s coaches and teammates are inspired by his desire and heart as Oregon prepares to play Utah.

He’s the main leader on this team, so we follow what he does. Since Saturday’s game, he’s come out and been the focal point of the whole team. He’s leading the right way, showing by example and telling people what to do. We all follow what number 10 does and we love what he does. -- Troy Dye

Herbert’s message to Dye and the rest of the Ducks?

Compete, compete, compete. Leave it all out there. There are only two teams in the Pac-12 practicing this week.

The Ducks will need spectacular play from Herbert to take the title. A major key to victory will be finding success in the passing game, something that hasn’t been roaring in the past two games (two interceptions at ASU and recording the lowest yardage total of the season vs. OSU).

This is where Herbert’s undeniable talent, passion and love for Oregon come into play. Plus his arm, which compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert and project him as a first round selection in the 2020 NFL draft.

Herbert will set his single-season career high in passing (3,151 in 2018; currently 3,140) on Friday, but can he empty the tank and perform at his best against the best?

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress, winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017, nine games in 2018 and 10 currently in 2019, plus a chance at the Rose Bowl.

His chances to make an impact in an Oregon uniform are dwindling. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels has an opportunity for the most substantial win of his Duck career on Friday in Levi’s Stadium.

Rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference vying for the crown… get your popcorn ready.

Opposing corners should fear Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell

Opposing corners should fear Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell

Left side, strong side.

Last week, Oregon sophomore Penei Sewell was honored as one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy which is presented to the nation’s best interior lineman on offense or defense. Sewell is named alongside Wisconsin junior center Tyler Biadasz and Auburn senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown.

This honor comes to Sewell in his sophomore season. The Outland Trophy committee recognized and honored Sewell as a finalist after 18 games played. 

It’s just a blessing. Growing up, I’ve always wanted one of those and to see that I’m a finalist, I want to go harder. -- Penei Sewell

How impressive is it that Sewell, in his second year of collegiate football, is up for this prestigious award? Very. Sewell joins Oregon legend and five-time NFL pro bowler Haloti Ngata (2005) as the only two players in program history be a finalist.

“I think more than anything it’s the accountability and what he’s put on tape. He plays with physicality and is graded out real well. Not a lot of mental errors. The things you’re looking for when you take those accolades,” said offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo.

Here are some of Sewell’s accomplishments as a freshman:

- USA Today Freshman All-American

- The No. 2 offensive lineman in the Pac-12

- The No. 7 tackle in the nation with an 84.0 grade from Pro Football Focus

At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Sewell has been integral in defending quarterback Justin Herbert’s blindside in addition to using his strength and agility to get to the second level of the defense quickly creating space for screens or chunk plays. Imagine being an opposing corner and seeing Sewell with 120+ extra pounds on you charging with a determined and fierce look in his eyes to get you on the ground.

If you’re a corner or something, you should definitely fear him especially in screens because he’s willing to come… I’ve never seen a guy his size be able to move in space like that. It’s really impressive. -- senior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux.

Looming for Sewell and Oregon is the Pac-12 Championship game. If Oregon is to move the ball against the stout Utah Utes defense, Sewell will need to bring his A-game once again.

The Outland Trophy winner will be announced on Thursday, December 12.

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Oregon's offense needs to figure some things out ahead of Utah

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Oregon's offense needs to figure some things out ahead of Utah

The No. 13 Oregon Ducks (10-2, 8-1) held off the Oregon State Beavers (5-7, 4-5 Pac-12) in Autzen Stadium this past weekend after Oregon junior corner Thomas Graham Jr. forced a fumble that was recovered by junior safety Brady Breeze with the Beavers driving to tie the game. 

Now, after a closer Civil War than expected, the Ducks will prepare for the No. 5 Utah Utes in the Pac-12 Conference Championship in Santa Clara and with a chance to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl.

Whether it was limited explosion plays, miscues, fumbling at the pylon or simply a lack of execution, the Ducks offense better figure itself out before it runs into that stout Utah defense.

"It's hard as a person outside the box to say 'well this is what's going wrong with this offense'... What I do know is when I watch Justin Herber throw some footballs, they're off," says Talkin' Ducks co-host Anthony Newman. "Seeing a ball over-thrown to Juwan Johnson who's 6-foot-6; seeing the ball thrown to the feet of Jaylon Redd on a screen play; you're one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and I'm not knocking Justin Herbert, but i'm just saying the performance that he had in the last couple of games, as a top quarerback in the country, you want those throws to be on point."

Our Talkin’ Ducks hosts Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman break down the Civil War, preview the Pac-12 Championship, predict what bowl game the Ducks will play in, give their thoughts on a 10-2 regular season and discuss Chris Petersen’s decision to resign from the University of Washington. 

Listen to the full podcast below.

Ducks offensive analyst Prentice Gill joins ASU staff

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Prentice Gill/IG

Ducks offensive analyst Prentice Gill joins ASU staff

Former offensive analyst Prentice Gill is flying south to join Herm Edwards’ coaching staff at ASU. 

Gill announced his departure from Oregon in a post on Instagram. 

“First off I just want to say thank you to the University of Oregon and Coach Cristobal for giving me the best opportunity of a lifetime! I enjoyed every second of it and I could never repay them for who they’ve been and what they did for me! With that being said I’d like to say thank you to Coach Herm Edwards, @antoniopierce and @sundevilfb for giving me my first Full time position at Arizona State University as the Wide Receivers Coach! I couldn’t be happier to join the #sundevilnation and I can’t wait to earn my keep and prove them right for taking a chance on me! With all that said, let’s move on to the next chapter! #ForksUp." 

Herm Edwards recently announced the firing of offensive coordinator Rob Likens and that he would not be bringing back wide receivers coach Charlie Fisher or tight ends coach Donnie Yantis.

Enter Prentice Gill, who is widely considered to be a talented recruiter. 

Gill’s coaching career began in 2012 at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College as the wide receivers coach. He moved to Long Beach Community College before joining USC in 2014 and San Jose in 2015 as a defensive grad assistant. 

In 2014, he spent a year with the Trojans in their football office before joining San Jose State’s staff as a defensive graduate assistant.

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

The College Football Playoff picture is clearing and with two losses, Oregon is no longer a contender.

With one week remaining in the 2019 season, the Ducks are No. 13 in the CFP rankings with a date against No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon is looking for its first win over a top 5 team since the 2015 Rose Bowl against No. 2 Florida State.

Since the Ducks are out of the final four…

How can the Ducks fly to the Rose Bowl (for the eighth time)?

OPTION ONE

The Pac-12 North Division champion Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 Title game on December 6 in Santa Clara, California. Oregon will face Pac-12 South Division champions Utah in the Pac-12 Championship.

OPTION TWO

Another route to roses… If the Ducks lose the Pac-12 title game and the No. 5 Utes get into the playoff, Oregon could still go to the Rose Bowl as the conference’s next best team.

Oregon’s drop out of the top-10 hurt Utah’s resume as contenders, but Alabama’s second loss boosted Utah’s chances. The fourth playoff spot opens if No. 2 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship. Even if Utah beats Oregon, there's still a path for No. 6 Oklahoma to sneak in over the Utes. An impressive second defeat over No. 7 Baylor would make a strong case for the Sooners.

The Rose Bowl is played vs. a Big Ten opponent in Pasadena, California at 2 p.m. (PT) on January 1, 2020. Possible Big Ten opponents: Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

CAVEAT

If an Oregon loss to Utah causes the Ducks to dramatically drop in the final rankings, there is a caveat that would be relevant to Oregon’s chances to get to the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl traditionally selects the next-highest CFP-ranked team from that conference, but if there is one or more teams closely ranked, the selection becomes up to the discretion of and “will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,” according to the Rose Bowl Management Committee.

USC is currently No. 22, so the Trojans could threaten the Ducks. In 2016, No. 9 USC was selected instead of Pac-12 South Champion, No. 10 Colorado. 

What is the next bowl game best-case scenario?

If Oregon loses the Pac-12 Title game and Utah is left out of the playoff and goes to the Rose Bowl, the Ducks are looking at the Pac-12’s No. 2 bowl tie-in, the Alamo Bowl.

(By the way, two Alamo Bowl representatives were in the press box on Saturday)

The Alamo Bowl is played vs. the Big 12’s No. 2 team in San Antonio, Texas at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on December 31, 2019. Likely Big 12 opponent: Baylor.

What about an at-large bid?

Auburn’s win over Alabama moves the Tigers ahead of the Ducks for an at-large bid for the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl is played in Arlington, Texas at 10 a.m. (PT) on December 28, 2019.

Oregon earned its first 10-win season since 2014 and has the opportunity to be crowed Pac-12 Champions. Now that the national title is out of the picture, senior quarterback Justin Herbert said, “It means everything” to learn from the Arizona State loss and refocus on finishing the season strong.